Paleo Diet — A return to the cave

We are a society in constant search of the perfect, easy way to lose weight. The latest in the diet trend is the Paleo diet, developed by Loren Cordain, PhD. It is a return to our club swinging, cave dwelling roots. Think hunt and gather, and you’ll have the idea.

The diet focuses on high protein, high fiber with lots of lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. You can also eat eggs, nuts and seeds and healthy oils like olive and coconut.

You cannot have any processed foods, dairy, wheat and other grains, refined sugars, refined oils (like vegetable), salt, potatoes, beans or peanuts.

Well … no wonder you lose weight! You can’t eat much, have to make all your food at home and alcohol is on the no-list as well. I am shocked by the number of people willing to take this on. Me? I love food and fun way too much to embrace this. While I can see how cutting out sugar, bad fats and carbohydrates can lead to decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease, I am skeptical about the claims this is healthier because cave people didn’t have chronic diseases. First of all, how do we know they didn’t and second of all, with a life expectancy of about 30, they were dead long before these diseases had a chance to show up.

I wish moderation were a sexier topic. I’d write a great book touting all the health benefits and become rich and famous. Yes, you should cut down on processed foods and the other items on Paleo’s no-no list. Lean protein, less carbs and high fiber are wonderful choices. You will feel better and be healthier. But, extremism in any diet is not only difficult to maintain, it raises other concerns and issues, both nutritional and psychological.  I’m very happy with my occasional sweet treat, rice and beans, PB&J, and evolved brain. I might not look as good in my bear fur dress, but that’s a Paleo benefit I’ll happily give up for a chilled glass of white.

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30 Reasons to Throw Away Maternal Guilt

I’m sick and tired of the guilt. Here are 30 reasons to let it go.

1 – You gave up wine for nine months, got fat, got hemorrhoids, got back pain and got varicose veins. You grew a human being inside your body and then pushed it out. Your kids owe you, not the other way around.

2 – There is no prize for most selfless mother.

3 – Joan of Arc was a martyr. It wasn’t sexy, AND she got burned at the stake.

4 – You yelled, and they didn’t really deserve it? This barely makes up for the countless times they did deserve it, and you didn’t yell.

5 - You’ve had take-out three times this week, and the other two nights were bagel bites and chicken nuggets? 20% of kids in America are hungry. Your kids are lucky to have food. Make sure you tell them so.

6 – Children still love mothers who beat them. You can’t lose their affection, no matter how badly you screw up.

7 – If your children were better kids, you’d be a better mom.

8 – You didn’t give them shaken baby syndrome.

9 – They forgot their homework, and you don’t have time to bring it up to the school? Let me repeat … THEY forgot their homework …

10 – You are doing the best you can.

11 – If you are the perfect parent, they won’t be able to handle the pressure when they have their own kids. Therapy is expensive.

12 - - Guilt is a complete waste of energy. Move on.

13 – You were late picking them up? Standing alone on a corner may be the only downtime in their over scheduled lives. You did them a favor.

14 – You were impatient? Believe me, they barely noticed, and if they did will forget it in a minute when they need something else from you.

15 – Someday, your children will have to fly the coop for good. If you’ve never let them test their wings and fall, they may crash and burn in the real world.

16 – You are judging yourself more harshly than anyone else would ever judge you. Lighten up.

17 – Your mom made mistakes, and you turned out awesome.

18 – Even if you parent flawlessly, your children will find a way to blame you for something in their life. Stop trying so hard.

19 – Motherhood is not a job. You have no boss, and no, your children are not the boss of you. You cannot be fired, nor can you quit. You are in it for the long haul, and like any life stage, we learn as we go.

20 – While motherhood is not a job, it can be really, really hard. Give yourself a break. None of us are fully equipped or prepared.

21 – “Perfect” mothers make really boring friends.

22 – You missed their soccer game? Good. Sometimes it is fun to actually tell your mom about something that happened rather than having her live every moment with you.

23 – Jeannette Walls grew up with a dysfunctional, negligent mother. She’s was on the New York Times Bestseller’s List for 261 weeks with her memoir, The Glass Castle. Practice some neglect. It will be good for them in the long run.

24 – Kids sense guilt like vultures sense fresh blood. Do not let them prey upon your weakness. Be strong.

25 – Guilt causes worry. Worry causes fine lines. Fine lines make you look old.

26 – The father of your kids has little to no guilt, and he doesn’t have any stretch marks.

27 – Kids fall. They bleed. They need stitches. They break stuff. They just do. Holding yourself responsible is egocentric and crazy. You are not omniscient, you are not all powerful, and you don’t have a crystal ball. Learn from the bad stuff, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

28 – Guilt is exhausting, and you have kids. You have enough to be exhausted about.

29 – You didn’t play with them today? You weren’t patient? You let them watch too much TV? You didn’t do their science project for them? SO WHAT?  Our warped definition of a perfect mother as someone who lives selflessly, giving her children all she has and fulfilling their every need, would likely produce incapable, unhappy children, and it is dangerous to our psyche. This unattainable perfection isn’t even one we should be striving for. Be o.k. with being imperfect, and your imperfect kids will be happier, healthier and more self-sufficient.

30 – You are a great mom. Just ask your kids. (Unless you have a teenager, then wait a few years to ask them.)

Guilt is a form of self hatred. Take time for yourself, and learn to love who you are, and the guilt will diminish. It won’t go away completely, but you have to try. You have to let it go, so you can enjoy this crazy, wonderful ride we call parenting — you sacrificed your wine and your body for these little parasites, after all. Most kids are wonderful and they will be fine — despite our inadequacies.

I had some more reasons, but after coming up with these, I think I’ll go lie on the couch and have some Me-Time. Or, I’ll pick the kids up at school, make them a healthy, homemade snack, and drive them around all afternoon — one or the other.

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Healthy Eating is NOT Just for Weight Loss

I often talk about exercise and how important it is for health and not just for weight loss. The same is SO true of healthy eating. While I believe we all inherently know we should eat better, in our superficial culture, we are often so focused on the numbers on the scale, we overlook the real reason we should be eating well.

Eating well simplified:

More fruits and vegetables
More fiber
More whole grains
Lean proteins
Minimize sugar and sugar substitutes
Carbohydrates in moderation

Why? (Even if you don’t need to lose weight.)

– It is proven people who eat better are happier and have more energy.

– People who eat well, sleep better.

– Healthy eating promotes better workouts.

healthy– Good food promotes healthier immune systems.

– AND OF COURSE, healthy eating promotes improved long term health

Next time you are in the food store, focus on your overall health and the health of your family rather than calories, and your pantry will be stocked with the recipe for a happier, healthier, more energetic life.


Posted in Dieting, Exercise, Nutrition, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are You Raising Nice Kids?

A recent post in the Washington Post by Amy Joyce gives advice on raising nice kids. Click on the link for the full article. Joyce highlights recent work by a Harvard psychologist, Richard Weissbourd, who runs the Making Caring Common project. The mission of this project is to find ways to teach kids how to be kind.

More impressive to me than the tips on how to raise nice kids — summarized below — is that Weissbourd and colleagues found the vast majority of kids state their parents care much more about their success and happiness than whether or not they are kind to others. This is sad, but not surprising, in our society which places such emphasis on achievement and looks at happiness as a goal. Have we become so focused on making the unattainable, perfect life for our individual children, we are forgetting to make them good citizens. You can’t teach happiness. You can’t will your kids to be smarter or better athletes. But, according to Weissbourd, you can teach your kids to be kinder by:

1. Making caring for others a priority.

2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude.

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern.

4. Be a strong role model and mentor.

5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings.

More than anything, the article is nice reminder to make kindness a priority in your home. After all, kindness can lead your kids to a happy, successful life. We are a generation of parents who feel, to a fault, our children are a reflection of us. So, let’s look at teaching kindness selfishly for a moment. I’ve never met a kid who does well on a field, or who is superficially happy because they are materialistically spoiled and thought, “Wow. That’s some good parenting right there.” However, when I meet kind, polite kids, I immediately give silent credit to their parents. People aren’t born with strong morals and values, they learn them. Guide your kids toward kindness, and the rest will fall into place.

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Put Your Bra On — It is Officially Safe

Bras DO NOT cause breast cancer, as reported in the American Association for Cancer Research recently. The study, which was not funded by Victoria’s Secret, looked at about 1500 post-menopausal women and their bra-wearing habits. Turns out, style, cup size, color and length of time worn have no impact on whether or not you will get breast cancer.

I’m telling you this in case you were worried. Do you remember the scare that told us underwire bras cause cancer? It made little sense from a medical standpoint, but still, we all started to question our push ups. Imagine this recent study had proven the opposite. Disaster. These days, after 4 pregnancies, nursing 5 kids and years of gravity, my good bras are kind of the only boobs I have left.

So, wear your underwear without worry. You can also use deodorant – please – without worry based on the current evidence. Risk factors for breast cancer you can control are alcohol intake, obesity, lack of physical activity and heavy, long term smoking. The jury is still out on how diet affects breast cancer. Your best bet is to stay active, drink in moderation, watch your weight and eat a diet high in fiber and foods rich with antioxidants, and low in fatty and processed foods. And, of course, see your doctor for check ups and schedule your mammogram.

Posted in Cancer, Inside, Prevention, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Make the Most of Your Massage

This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I got a massage for no reason at all this morning. The boys were at school for two hours, and I spent half of it lying on a table — I know, spoiled, right? In my defense, I had a gift certificate from my birthday a year and a half ago, and my shoulders were killing me from back to school stress. Of course, I have a ton of guilt but here’s the worst part … I don’t feel any better. In fact, I may feel worse! I think I did everything wrong. Next time you treat yourself to a swedish or deep tissue, make the most of it.

1. Schedule in advance. Looking forward to the massage is part of the fun. Book a therapist you know does a good job, and you’ll reap more benefit. Get recommendations from friends if the spa is new to you.

2. Make a to-do list the night before. Writing down everything you have to accomplish will settle your mind and keep your thoughts from racing through the treatment. Focus on gratitude. In the grand scheme of life, you are pretty fortunate to be receiving the luxury of a massage. When your thoughts start to wander, silently list all the things you are grateful for.

3. Prep. Take a warm shower, shave and stretch. Take off all your jewelry at home. Wear comfortable clothes. Call your emergency contact and make sure he or she will be available in case your kids’ school calls. The chances of this happening during the one hour you have your phone on silent is slim, but it will give you peace of mind.

4. Give yourself enough time — before and after. The massage should be part of a relaxing experience. If you are racing to get there on time and/or have a meeting scheduled for immediately following, you are trying to cram too much relaxing into 50 minutes. It won’t work, and you’ll likely end up feeling worse — and guilty for having spent the time and money.

5. Make your needs clear. Do you want more pressure, less pressure? Do you have a specific area you’d like worked on? Are you too cold, too hot? Etc. I know for lots of us, speaking up is difficult, and we want the therapist to like us, so we don’t complain. Massage therapists will tell you though, they want you to have a good experience and they like to hear from you. They can’t read your mind.

Now, I want a redo! How long until my birthday??

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An Apple a Day

Apples have gone from being the forbidden fruit to being the forgotten fruit. Berries, kiwi and pomegranate are sexier. No one puts antioxidants and apples together in the same sentence. Unlike gogi berries, you can find them anywhere. But, don’t let their availability cause you to overlook them. Lest we forget about the benefits from this tried and true, loyal fruit, here are some fun, practical and healthy reasons to stock up on some Galas and Macintoshes.

- You can pick them yourself. Apple picking is one of my favorite things to do with the kids in the Fall. Plan it now, because otherwise the orchards will be bare by the time you get there.

- Apples last a really long time. How many berries and peaches have you had to toss because the went bad before they were eaten? Apples add a beautiful splash of color to your kitchen, and they are survivors.

- They are also relatively inexpensive. One apple costs about 70 cents and nutritionally, counts as a cup of fruit.

- Apples are high in fiber, have lots of vitamin C, and YES … they do have antioxidants.

- Studies have shown apples are beneficial in fighting cardiovascular disease and lowering cholesterol.

- AND, here’s a good one … apples have been proven to help you lose weight. They are a filling, healthy snack without a lot of calories, and can be a great part of any moderate weight loss plan.

So, when you take your kids apple picking next weekend, let them load up. Bring home more than you can carry and share your harvest with friends and neighbors. And, of course, you’ll have to make at least one apple pie. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll feel less guilty about an ice cream topped indulgence.

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Are You Drinking Too Much?

I will not name names, but I’ve heard from many of you in the past couple of weeks, “I’ve got to stop drinking.” Seems a fun, boozy summer was had by all, and now we are trying to figure out how to put on the brakes in the midst of the stressful back to school time. I haven’t been too successful, not that I’ve tried very hard. I watched When a Man Loves a Woman last night with a great bottle of Pinot Noir. Perhaps I should’ve seen some of myself in Meg Ryan’s alcoholic character, but truthfully, all I could think was, “Wow. Detox looks hard,” and “Andy Garcia is really cute.” Yes, I have love handles I am affectionately calling Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, but caloric intake aside, am I drinking too much? Now with carpooling and homework, the fun will naturally curb itself, but I still plan on enjoying an occasional weekday unwind in a glass. How about you?

When should you be concerned?

Doctors are taught the CAGE questionnaire. You can try it on yourself.

C – Have you ever felt the need to Cut down on your drinking?

A – Have you been Annoyed by people criticizing your driving?

G – Do you ever feel Guilty about drinking?

E – Have you ever felt the need for an Eye Opener?

Answering yes to two or more of these questions, is indicative of a potential problem. Speak with people who truly love you and don’t just love partying with you. Ask if they think you need to stop drinking.Try cutting down, or cutting out alcohol completely for a couple of weeks. If you have a hard time doing so, speak with your doctor.

Remember, moderation is a wonderful thing. The healthiest, happiest people are those who can find and maintain balance in all things … drinking alcohol included.

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